Damascus: Syria has ordered the sentence for those convicted of honour killings tripled to between five and seven years.

The local press reported on Monday that President Bashar Assad amended the current law which stipulated a jail sentence of just two years for those convicted of killing a relative for having illicit sex.

Activists say some 150-200 women are killed every year in Syria by their relatives in order to preserve conservative tribal notions of family honour. The killings, they say, are abetted by lenient punishments.

Honour killing in Syria mostly takes place in rural areas.

Basam Al Qadhi, director of the Syrian Women Observatory, criticised the new law as still too lenient and demanded a minimum penalty of 15 years.